This election is about the success of coalitions: Dr. Sandeep Shastri
New Delhi, Mar 27: It is election time in India and the big question on everyone's mind is who will emerge victorious. It has been an election of narratives so far and all parties are looking at how it should be packaged in order to reap the maximum benefits from the voter.
Will these narratives by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress be national trends as polling day approaches. It will not be and it will play out differently in different states says leading political scientist, Dr. Sandeep Shastri in this interview with OneIndia.
Do you consider this more of a narrative based rather than an issue based election?
I have always argued that there are two narratives which are on to gain the mind space of the citizens. On one hand, the BJP narrative speaks about the the idea of India, nationalism, security, leadership, Balakot and surgical strikes. They are appealing to the voters on these lines.
The alternative narrative speaks about issues such as jobs, price rise and the need to hold the government accountable for the promises it made. It is as part of this narrative that Rahul Gandhi speaks about a basic income promise.
These are two competing narratives which attempt to capture the mind space of the voters.
So, what exactly is the problem with such narratives?
It is sad that no one is going into the details of these two narratives. The parties are looking at how effectively these narratives can be packaged and presented. In capturing the mind space, we have created a huge amount of polarisation. It is either a right narrative or a wrong narrative and we are trying to ensure a blind adherence to both.
The problem is that there is no question of a debate and if you try to do so, it is termed as anti democratic. I would be happy if there was an objective dialogue on these narratives. When there is deep polarisation, there is never any meaningful dialogue.
How do you see these narratives playing out?
There will not be a national trend on these narratives. This will play out differently in different states.
That brings us to coalitions. Is this what will decide the elections?
This election is about the success of the coalitions. When the BJP won in 2014, many said that the BJP came to power and down the line NDA was inserted. The BJP today realises that it must showcase its alliance. There were compromises made in Maharashtra and Bihar. In Tamil Nadu, an alliance which does not synchronise well was created.
On the other hand, you do not have a united alliance against the BJP. There are regional alliances. The picture of these alliances are different in different states. These will argue that there is no need of a national alliance against the BJP.
Who according to you is the lead as of now?
It appears to be an even contest as of now.
How will the internal feuds over ticket distribution play out?
Down the line, both the BJP and Congress have had problems in ticket distribution. This has resulted in internal fissures. The BJP being a cadre based party maybe in a better position to handle internal differences. All those who spoke out after being left out said that they would work for the party. Here the non-BJP alliance will have more problems. The BJP's internal structure is better equipped to handle such problems. Ultimately it is those who work at the ground level, who will decide the elections.